Little Bill began as a series of picture books credited to Bill Cosby. I was hired to adapt the books for television. Since the show was to be geared toward preschoolers, I changed Little Bill’s age to be an eternal five year old. I also added an older sister and a hamster named Elephant to the family mix.
My work entailed coming up with 30-40 story ideas each season, some of which were approved by Mr. Cosby. Then I would write my share and assign other ideas to writers for hire to flesh out the stories and write scripts. I was also responsible for editing the scripts to make sure the voices and tone of the show were consistent. I lived in Los Angeles at the time, and the people at Nickelodeon were gracious enough to allow me to work from home for three weeks out of the month and come to New York for meetings, storyboard sessions and writer conferences the fourth week.
I loved writing for the characters on this show. I could hear all of their distinct voices in my head. I understood them and knew what they would and would not do. It got to the point where sometimes I wished Little Bill were real so that I could hug him and listen to him giggle all the time. In hindsight, I think this character played a big part in my wanting to become a father.
During the second season, I was wrapping up production of Little Bill scripts and prepping season one of Taina at the same time. One show’s offices were situated on the right side of the long hallway, the other show on the left. As soon as Little Bill scripting was wrapped, we headed down to Orlando, Florida to shoot the first season of Taina. By the time the fall came around and Taina’s production was wrapping, it was time to gear up the Little Bill machine again, I must confess I was on the edge of total burn out. It was heartbreaking for me, but I had to give up my duties on Little Bill in order to recharge my batteries. The show was left in good hands and the third season was a great success.
Funny thing, animation takes way longer than live-action production, so I actually didn’t see many of the episodes I had written or edited for Little Bill until I tuned in to the show with my daughter when she was four years old. I was pleased at the finished product and thrilled when my daughter, while watching the show, would see my credits and shout out each and every time, “Papa’s name!”